How long have you been on your recovery journey?
Recovery started for me when I was 19 and had a brief stint in a rehab by choice; they called it the microwave version because insurance only covered a week. I had been staying awake at nights and couldn't handle the horrible feelings that come along with drug and alcohol fueled all-nighters combined with the depression and scary day at work afterwards.
I guess you can call it a brief spiritual awakening because I truly had no clue I had a disease and never thought of actually quitting. To say the least, I was sober for 90 days and had no concept of the fact that I was dying of an actual disease called alcoholism and that there was a solution to my problem. It just never clicked for me, so I went out for another 15 years. I didn't have one sober breath those entire 15 years. When I almost died on September 11th, 2006 I was struck sober from that moment on, but I still had no understanding that I had a problem. I didn't even plan on stopping, but it happened.
What is the biggest positive change in your life since then?
I have really become an entirely different person. Even when I was a child, I feel I was suffering from alcoholism without even taking a drink. I had a wonderful family; everything you could dream of but no peace inside with a boat load of anger, entitlement and self-centeredness. When I got sober everything changed. It had to! The most positive thing for me today is that I get to be whoever I want to be. I have opportunities beyond my wildest dreams and I am able to live a freedom I had never known existed. This positive change for me is the sole purpose in my life to be a good example, to be of service and to save lives. That is a meaningful life full of hope and happiness. It is more than anyone could ask for and I am so grateful.
What led to your need for recovery (from substance abuse or some other issue)?
I always needed recovery but what led me to it was my spiritual condition. I had no hope, no faith, just a terrible meth and alcohol habit. I went to jail and did things I shouldn't have done, but ultimately it’s when my life was being taken from me did things happen. My soul was empty and on September 11, 2006 my stomach lining burst open and stomach acid and bacteria was literally burning my organs and turning my whole body septic. It was a painful near death experience that caused me to have an emergency surgery to have my guts vacuumed out and my stomach lining sutured back up and then my 1.5 foot long explorative surgery scar down the front of me stapled shut.
But, not even then did I want to stop. I had been to the pharmacist days later from my release from the hospital to find something to alter my thoughts. That is the insanity of the disease, it was out to kill me and I didn’t even know! I was not a bad person; I was a sick person. That pharmacist directed me to the 12-step meeting next door which I went to and walked out.
What was the turning point for you?
I don’t know what came over me at this point but I picked up the phone to call an old friend who used to be my drug dealer who I knew was sober. She answered and met me at a 12-step meeting. From the moment I walked in, I felt at home this time. There was an overwhelming group of women to love me and greet me as no one has ever sincerely done before. They took me out to dinner and listened to me talk. I took their word for it and gave up all power. I didn’t know how to live but knew I wanted what they had. I couldn’t believe it; these women called me the next day to see how I was doing. That gave me hope and a new perception on life almost instantly, so I kept coming back to those rooms.
What is one important truth you’ve learned through the process?
That simplicity makes me happy and by surrendering I will win! For us alcoholic drug addicts, we must be completely honest through the process.
What are you most proud of about your life today?
I am a working member of society, not just financially, but I also spend a ton of my time giving my life to help others. Also, I met the man of my dreams who feels the same way about me and we have created a beautiful life together. We were married in 2013 and enjoy traveling the world together, our two dogs and our new house we purchased.
What is one of your biggest struggles in ongoing recovery? How do you overcome that?
I like to take back my power all the time and can easily forget the instincts such as greed, sloth, gluttony, pride, wrath, envy and lust that if I act upon it could eventually lead to a drink or a drug. My behavior needs to change permanently in all aspects of my life. It’s impossible to be perfect but it is possible to strive to be better and to be aware of my faults to correct them. My disease is like a cancer that needs to be treated on a daily basis or else I could still lose it all, including my life. We are never cured; we just have tools to live life on life’s terms. I continue to go to meetings, sponsor women, pray and broaden my spiritual condition.
Are there goals you’ve met or dreams you’ve pursued that you’re particularly proud of?
I have always wanted to make clothes or t-shirts. I finally made it happen and started my own t-shirt line called “Doing it Sober” in July 2014. We are headed to the 2015 AA International Convention this year to bring the shirts to a larger community for more people to enjoy.
Is there a truth or piece of advice someone shared with you that has helped you on this road?
Sobriety is for the people that want it, not the people that need it.
When I was new and my ego was huge my sponsor told me two things:
- Your ego is not your amigo!
- You are not unique. (Ouch! But it changed my view on myself and my excuses!)
S L O W B R I E T Y – this is a journey, not a destination. We have years of damage and get better ONE DAY AT A TIME.
What would you tell someone at the beginning of this journey who is afraid they can’t do it?
You’re never alone again and we can do this together one step at a time. I would then offer my story, because if I can do it anyone can!